Getting back on track
Boahen, Flames ready for conference play
By Mike Pankow
December 26, 2018
UIC's 3-point marksman connected on four shots from deep Friday night at Credit Union 1 Arena and finished the game 8-for-12 from the field for a game-high 20 points in the Flames' 76-55 victory over St. Francis, an NAIA school from the Cathedral Area of Southwest suburban Joliet.
After the game, Boahen, a 46.6 percent shooter from the field, was asked about his confidence offensively.
"It really comes from my teammates. They get mad when I don't shoot," said Boahen, the junior guard from Toronto. "They'll scream at me if I don't shoot, even if I've missed five in a row. I see that they believe in me so much."
Boahen has connected on at least one 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games and is shooting 39 percent from downtown this season.
Boahen helped the Flames (6-7) jump out to an 8-3 lead early, thanks to pair of 3-pointers. The Fighting Saints (10-4) kept it close for a while before UIC went on an 11-0 run, aided by four points apiece from Jordan Blount and Michael Diggins, for a 19-7 lead.
St. Francis pulled to within 27-22 on two free throws by Cole Micek (18 points) with 5:57 left in the first half, but the Flames closed the first half on a 14-2 spurt, capped by Boahen's third 3-pointer, for a 41-24 advantage.
"I thought the guys came out and did what they had to do to win the game," UIC coach Steve McClain. "There are a lot of upsets at this time of year and there are a lot of teams that don't play well at this time of year. We've played an unbelievable schedule, but I know we've had a couple of games (recently) where the guys weren't as excited to play. We did the things that we needed to do to continue to get better."
UIC coasted in the second half, never leading by fewer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Tarkus Ferguson finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Marcus Ottey added nine points, five rebounds and seven assists for the Flames, who shot 50.9 percent from the field, handed out 20 assists on 29 field goals and committed a season-low 10 turnovers while racking up 11 steals.
“After the Incarnate Word game, we basically started from scratch in practice,” Boahen said. "We needed to refocus on Coach's principles, playing team defense and sharing the ball. We came out tonight and tried to demonstrate that."
The Flames now head into Horizon League play on a two-game winning streak, capping off a challenging non-conference slate just under the .500 mark.
McClain emphasized UIC's 6-1 home mark in non-league action and knows the team wishes it could have a few of their early-season road losses back.
"I think our guys would love to have the Duquesne game back and some of those others back," McClain said. "That's the thing about life, you can't get those back. You have to learn from them.
"This is our best home non-conference record since I've been here. We didn't steal any on the road, but we only gave up one at home."
UIC opens up the Horizon League slate with a daunting 1-2 road punch of Wright State and Northern Kentucky, the two teams picked ahead of the Flames in the Horizon League preseason poll, starting Friday, Dec. 28.
"I have great respect for both of those programs," said McClain, who inferred the league hasn't done them any favors with the schedule. "Northern Kentucky is off to a great start and Wright State, like us, played a pretty heavy schedule. It seems like we get to go there every year after Christmas."
FLAMES FLICKERS: Junior forward Rob Howard wasn't with the team because he came down with the flu. ... The Flames used 10 players and all of them scored except for redshirt junior guard Dominique Matthews. ... Starting forward Jordan Blount had eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. ... Starting center Travell Washington matched his career high with seven points, including a dunk to open the scoring. ... The Flames' 6-1 home start is the best in McClain's three-plus seasons and is the best since UIC started 6-0 in the 2012-13 campaign before losing to Valparaiso.